NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has foreshadowed an extension of lockdown rules amid growing calls for stronger measures to stop the spread of the infectious Delta variant in Sydney.
NSW Health reported 29 cases of coronavirus on Saturday – 17 of which were known about on Friday but came after the 8pm reporting deadline.
However, health authorities are now concerned the virus has spread outside these LGAs with a number of venues at Manly, Maroubra, and Lakemba, Bankstown and Auburn in the city's west named as exposure sites.
“The reason for our additional concern this morning is because the exposure sites have now increased beyond those areas of concern that we had,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“The NSW Government has always relied on the health advice.
"I am putting everybody on notice that we may need to extend that during the course of the day or tomorrow.”
Contact tracers playing catch-up
Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said while contact tracers have linked the cases “very quickly” they are finding by the time people have been found they have already transmitted.
“So that is the rationale for why our concern level has been increasing,” Dr Chant said.
“So as an example, only 12 of the 29 cases were in isolation through their infectious period.”
Dr Chant added the situation between Friday night and Saturday morning has “highlighted” the number of undetected and infectious cases in the community.
“Largely they were contained in the four LGAs, but now we are seeing the spread to exposure venues outside of those four LGAs, and that is the basis for my growing concern,” she said.
Ms Berejiklian will hold a crisis Cabinet meeting on Saturday afternoon to determine if restrictions need to change.
Current restrictions make 'absolutely no sense'
The NSW Government's approach to the latest breakout has been widely criticised.
The president of the AMA Dr Omar Khorshid said on Friday the restrictions were "not enough".
"What we really need are clear rules for all Sydneysiders that say 'stay at home' so we can get ahead of this virus and stop further transmission," Dr Khorshid said.
"The Delta virus is different, it is being transmitted far more easily and everyone has acknowledged that it is different.
He explained the AMA is of the belief the same rules should apply to everyone, putting the entire Sydney basin under lockdown to allow the government to get ahead of the outbreak and avoid a prolonged lockdown.
Dr Norman Swan, the ABC's medical commentator, tweeted on Saturday morning it "makes absolutely no sense" the entire city hasn't been locked down and cited the new venues of concern.
"This is politics not public health," he tweeted.
"This cannot be described as an epidemiologically sound approach and given there are many competent epidemiologists NSW you have to assume they’ve been given the right advice but the politics are working against it or slowing it down."
Medical Journal of Australia editor in chief Nick Talley joined the chorus on social media, tweeting the measures so far are "not strong enough".
"Some are traveling into the regions. The virus doesn’t recognise LGA boundaries," he said.
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